"Mountain 2" artist book in Varange Rud (2019); Papier-mâché

This week we welcome Anahita Bagheri, an Iranian interdisciplinary artist based in NYC. Papier-mache, sound, video, and words find their way into her art through sculpture, book making, installation, and performance. She has had exhibitions at Arsenal Contemporary Gallery, Transmitter Gallery, 25 East Gallery, and Wollman Hall in NYC. She was a participant in the AMT Moving Image Festival, held annually by Parsons School of Design. She has exhibited in biennials and art fairs, including Bon-gah Art Book Fair, and The 2nd Iran Contemporary Art Biennale, and also in O Gallery, Etemad Gallery, and Soo Contemporary gallery in Tehran.

Bagheri draws inspiration from the rich traditions of Persian miniature painting, mythology, and literature. She is interested in how nature, landscape, and gender are presented in these fields. Regarding nature, she mainly uses Tazhib, Tashir, Eslimi, and Khatai (styles of Persian ornamentation) in her sculptures. They are seen in the floral and twisted forms of her sculptures, creating a sense of extension and movement into space. She seeks to bridge the past and present.

“Reed 1 & 2″ (2023); Papier-mâché and wood. 120″ x 24″ x 14″ and 108″ x 24″ x 20”

Although Bagheri is focused on sculpture, video, and sound art, she also creates artist’s books, poetry, and performance art. Her chosen mediums revolve around the message she wants to convey. Her work is constantly changing and evolving, from the moment she starts her research to the process of making (sculpting, painting, filming, editing, writing), up until it is time to share it with the audience.

“Flowering Minaret (Goldasteh) 5″ (2022); Papier-mâché. 28″ x 53″ x 15”

She creates large-scale multimedia sculptures that often integrate sound and video. Her sculptures are made of papier-maché that are then painted on. Papier-maché was widely used in Persian lacquer painting in the Safavid era in Iran and this artform further flourished in the Qajar era and was used to make artifacts such as pen boxes and book covers.

 “Stem, on Fire” (2023); papier-mâché and wood. 30″ x 70″ x 7″

Beyond this historical significance, the use of papier-maché in her sculptures carries connotations of challenging gender dynamics and reclaiming artistic expression. This art form was primarily dominated by men. This act of reclaiming and redefining the medium brings a performative aspect to her sculpture work that not only honors her cultural heritage but also challenges societal stereotypes. 

See more of her work on her website and Instagram.

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